An oddity of Surrey’s real estate market is for sale again, after sitting empty for nearly 20 years.
Bids are sought by the JLL real estate company for 104 Avenue Centre, a 260,000-square-foot complex located on the Whalley/Guildford border.
The four-storey building was constructed in 1998 and relegated as vacant pretty much ever since.
Donald Pitt, an Arizona-based lawyer, bought the building in the early 2000s and has sought a single tenant for it. Prospective renters have included Fraser Health, Simon Fraser University and the RCMP, but all deals eventually collapsed.
The possible sale of the building is good news to Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade.
“I think everyone wants to have that building occupied,” she said Wednesday. “We had the Surrey Board of Trade’s development and land-use team, some of those members, tour it with me the other day, last week, and I think there’s a level of excitement that there’s finally a comprehensive, global marketing strategy for this building.”
The block-long property, located on 104th Avenue between 141st and 142nd streets, was originally known as The Asian Centre before Pitt bought and upgraded the building.
The sale was announced approximately six weeks ago, with no list price attached.
“That wasn’t disclosed to us, and it will depend on the client and the level of negotiation,” Huberman said of the asking price.
“I can’t even comment on that, because the building has been sitting empty for 20 years and there’s no plumbing, actually, in the building, and there are so many tenant improvements that need to be done,” Huberman added. “So when you consider all of those factors, it’s hard for me to even come up with a number.”
In this case, she said the role of Surrey Board of Trade is to help market the building to potential buyers – “to say, ‘This building is open now, there’s a comprehensive, structured sales strategy, contact us and we’ll send you to the right people.’ We’re just leveraging our connections, and hoping for success.”
Huberman said the unoccupied building “skews the office-space vacancy rate for Surrey,” and she suggests “significant opportunities for the right business to either own or lease that building.
“I think it would be ideal for an educational institute of some type, an IT company, arts and culture space – you know, those are ideas that have been touted for that building.”
In 2016, officials with the Surrey-based City Dream Centre organization toured 104 Avenue Centre and pitched it as a future complex to help the city’s “underprivileged and marginalized” residents get the food, clothing, job skills, health care and housing they require.
The proposed facility is modelled on Los Angeles’ Dream Center, founded in 1994 as a volunteer-driven organization that “finds and fills the needs of over 80,000 individuals and families each month,” according to its website, dreamcenter.org.
On Wednesday, City Dream Centre administrator Kelly Voros said the registered charity is “definitely still interested” in the property on 104th Avenue.
“We’re hoping to be able to make a bid,” Voros told the Now-Leader.
Huberman said prospective buyers of 104 Avenue Centre must sign a NDA, or non-disclosure agreement, before detailed information about the property is shared.
“Then they go into some of the details of what the client needs, and what the selling price is,” Huberman said. “I think some possible options will be considered by the owner, and then an eventual decision, and I know that they’re wanting to have some type of decision at least by mid-next year.”